A stand-alone hot water kettle might seem like an extraneous item in a kitchen that already contains a stove and a microwave, but tea and coffee aficionados who imbibe all day know better.
A cup of water zapped in a microwave heats to an uncertain temperature, and nothing's worse than the agony of watching a teapot boil on the stove. On the other hand, the bubbling music of a hot water kettle is the sound of comfort, consistency, and convenience, whether indulging in multiple cups of green tea steeped at just the right temperature, or craving the smooth ground-beans jolt of a perfect coffee poured from a French press. Add the benefit of having hot water available for instant oatmeal, hot cocoa, or soup, and you'll soon be searching for the best hot water kettle for your home.
Searching for an electric kettle can be bewildering. Prices range from the mid-twenty-dollars to thousands for some high-end electric boilers. There's no need to break the bank, however. Most single-household users can do with a kettle for well under a hundred dollars where there is a wide range of styles and features available.
For the seven hot water kettles reviewed below, price and quality were taken into consideration. Every model came in under a hundred dollars. Each has an auto-stop low-water or boil-dry protection mechanism which is a non-negotiable safety feature. They all have a concealed heating element to avoid the mineral build-up that can cause malfunctions and a short shelf life. All but the countertop-only electric boiler have retractable cords.
Our top picks are as follows:
- Hamilton Beach Stainless Steel Electric Kettle
- Capresso Polished Chrome Kettle
- Secura Stainless Steel Double-Walled Electric Kettle
- Oven Glass Cordless Electric Kettle
- Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfectTemp Stainless Steel Electric Kettle
- T-fal Balanced Living Electric Kettle
- Secura Electric Water Boiler and Warmer
Since the prime purpose of an electric kettle is to boil water for hot beverages for human consumption, the criteria used to rate these models include:
- Boiling speed and other temperature features
- Handling or design features
- Ease of cleanliness and overall use
Well then, let's get to it!
Hamilton Beach Stainless Steel Electric Kettle
This sleek, stainless steel, back-to-basics electric kettle has a seven-cup capacity and two water-level windows, one on either side, for ease of use. It lifts off from a 360-degree rotating base that makes it easy to return the kettle to its base blind. It has a stay-cool plastic handle and a spout designed to minimize dripping. Like many of the other models reviewed, this surprisingly inexpensive unit has 1500 watts of power to boil water better than any microwave.
- Stainless steel body limits off-gassing, that "plastic-y" smell everyone hates
- Two water level windows
- Spring-loaded lid opens fast, can fling around droplets of water
- No sound insulation, so it boils loud
- Lid only raises 45 degrees, can make cleaning and filling difficult
Capresso Polished Chrome Kettle
This retro-chic electric glass kettle boasts a six-cup capacity as well as a 360-degree swivel base, making it easy to lift and serve whether you're right- or left-handed. A textured inner handle prevents slippage when lifting a full pot. The German Schott glass that it's made of is marked for minimum and maximum water levels. Like all glass kettles used in hard-water areas, mineral deposits will inevitably build up on the inside of the glass. A good wash with vinegar or another de-calcifying wash will keep it sparkling, but keep this in mind if you're particular about cleanliness.
- Stylish, artsy look
- You'll never wonder how much water you have in your kettle
- Compact base
- Like all glass carafes, the glass can get crusty with mineral deposits
- Lid is plastic with chrome overlay, foil can peel with frequent use
- Measuring lines are on the back rather than the side
Secura Stainless Steel Double-Walled Electric Kettle
This hot water kettle brings a throwback Darth Vader vibe with its sleek, jet-black BPA-free exterior. It's double-walled, the interior being 100% stainless steel and the exterior made of cool-touch materials, so you'll never have to worry about scalding if you happen to grab the body while pouring. Since the boiling water inside bubbles against nothing but stainless steel, there's no off-gassing from BPA (bisphenol A), which is found in many plastics and resins. This feature puts this model in the category of the best hot water kettle for hard-core tea drinkers sensitive to the scent of chemical residue.
- Generous two-year warranty
- Cool exterior minimizes scalding
- Bigger and bulkier than most electric kettles, the base can slide easily on countertop
- Can't tell how much water is in the kettle without opening the lid
- Takes longer to boil than many other electric kettles
Ovente Glass Cordless Electric Kettle
This six-cup kettle made of borosilicate glass lights up electric blue when boiling, bringing a little joy along with your tea. The light shuts off automatically when the unit shuts down. At 1100 watts, it has a little less power than most other models reviewed here, but it still delivers boiling water within five or six minutes. The handle is ergonomically designed, making it easy to pick up and carry around for refills. Because the pot is all glass, mineral build-up can be an issue in hard-water areas, requiring more frequent vinegar washes than might be necessary than for a stainless-steel pot that hides the crust within.
- The disco-blue light-up feature is cheery and conversation-worthy
- The flip-back lid allows for easy filling and cleaning
- No off-gassing
- At 1100 W, it's less powerful than many other kettles, so it can take longer to boil
- Like all glass carafes, a vinegar wash is necessary to reduce mineral deposit scum
- When boiling at maximum volume, the lid can get hot
Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp Stainless Steel Electric Kettle
A higher price also brings high-tech, and that's the first impression given by this gleaming stainless-steel kettle. The water level measurement window sports a computer-screen-blue backlight. A memory feature allows a user to pick it up mid-boil, pour a cup, and then put it back within two minutes without the unit shutting off or losing its place in the whole brewing process. A "keep warm" button maintains the water temperature for a thirty full minutes.
True tea lovers know that green tea steeps best at 175 degrees, oolong at 195 degrees, and black tea at a boil. The real attraction of this model is its six pre-set temperature setting buttons so the user can choose according to tea preference. Along with a stainless-steel inside that minimizes off-gassing, the water temperature control feature makes this model the best hot water kettle for tea lovers.
- Six water heat settings
- 30-minute "keep warm" feature
- Paint on buttons and measurement levels tends to wear off
- Warranty is limited
T-fal Balanced Living Electric Kettle
This affordable, compact, funky four-cup electric kettle is light as a feather and perfect for travel or a dorm room, yet doesn't skimp on special features. Unlike most low-priced electric tea kettles, this model offers low, medium, and high-temperature settings and incredible power at 1750 watts. It has a 360-degree rotating base for easy pick-up and set-down. It is made of plastic parts and manufacturer information about BPA content is sketchy. Taste-sensitive or BPA-averse users may want to choose a different, stainless steel model instead.
- Super-fast heat-up
- Modern, funky style
- Water window rises higher than maximum 1-liter mark, and overfilling can cause splatter
- Interior coating on bottom of pot can peel over time
- Conflicting information on whether it's BPA-free
Secura Electric Water Boiler and Warmer
This large-volume countertop water boiler is a moderately-priced fixed kettle with a bunch of cool features, including a computerized temperature control and an auto warming feature for two different temperatures. Inside is non-coated stainless steel to eliminate off-gassing. The large capacity and lesser power of 750 watts does mean that it takes longer to come to a boil, but the warming feature keeps the water at one of two temperatures for a long period of time, reducing the need to re-boil. An electric-blue nightlight allows bleary-eyed third-shift workers a beacon to follow to charge their cups with the next dose of black tea.
- Auto-clean function to reduce mineral build-up
- Large capacity for serious tea and coffee addicts
- One-touch electronic dispenser, so no splatter from spouts
- Fixed appliance, so you can't bring a kettle to the table for quick cup refills
- Takes up counter space
- Awkward to fill
Overall, consumers whose concerns are primarily about BPA emissions should focus on a kettle that has stainless-steel or all-glass interiors. These models minimize the number of plastic parts in contact with the boiling water.
Tea connoisseurs may want to consider units that have adjustable temperature settings in order to brew up a cup according to best practices.
Heavy users of tea, coffee, and other beverages might want to avoid the four-cup units in favor of large capacity kettles, and seek out models that have keep-warm features.
When it comes to choosing the best hot water kettle, there's no one-size-fits-all. What counts is finding the model that works for you.